Connecting Business and Mission

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The world needs more Christian businesspeople. In fact, the world needs more Christian billionaires!

Evidence of this bold assertion will be on display at 4 o’clock on Thursday afternoon, February 9, right here on the Fresno Pacific University main campus. The CEOs of two highly successful national corporations in the food industry will speak as part of The Leadership Series, organized by the School of Business.

“Leadership Legacies: Ingredients for Building a Successful Food Company” is of special interest to students, entrepreneurs and business owners and managers who want to connect the power of effective business with Jesus’ call to serve the mission of his kingdom on earth. Bill Smittcamp, of Wawona Frozen Foods, based in Clovis, and Gary Lim, of Flagship Food Group North America, headquartered in Greenwood Village, CO—and with offices in six other locations, including Boise, ID, where Gary resides—will describe how they built their companies in alignment with their Christian faith and values.

But the idea of Christians climbing the ranks of business to the highest level should be applauded by all of us. It is part of the Christian faith to be a good steward of God’s provision, and being a good steward means multiplying what you are given. Remember Jesus’ Parable of the Talents in Matthew.

You know the story: a master going on a journey gives three servants some of his property to care for while he is away. Upon his return, the master evaluates the faithfulness of each servant according to what they did with what he gave them. It is clear the master sought profit from his servants’ oversight when he rewards the two servants who successfully invested what they had, and punishes the servant who played it safe.

Many of us know Bill Smittcamp as a shining example of one who connects business and mission for the glory of Jesus. He won the 2017 Leon S. Peters Award for his many philanthropic activities, but what strikes me about Bill is that, for all he does on the boards of Valley Children’s Healthcare, Central Valley Community Bank, the Garfield Water District, Sigma Chi Foundation and Every Neighborhood Partnership, he remains a humble servant.

Come to the Leadership Series February 9 and hear the many ways Flagship Foods is also actively involved in all the communities where it has operations. I’ll be interviewing Gary and Bill, who met for the first time in my office last May when Gary visited Fresno Pacific. (This even though their two companies do considerable business with each other.) Among other shared values and interests, Gary and Bill have used my book Leadership Prayers for many years, and Gary actually initiated his relationship with Peggi and me as a result of his desire for personal conversation about the book. Register for the event at leadership-legacies.eventbrite.com. Did I mention each company has provided food for tasting?

Bill, Gary and other Christians in business live out the belief that whatever God gives us, we have a responsibility to nurture and make grow for his glory. That includes the ability to build and lead businesses, which is a very creative endeavor. Christian businesspeople will understand that God is the ultimate owner of all they build, and will treat profits as divine gifts to benefit others—the very definition of stewardship. In addition, Christians in business will give of their time and energy to help the church, improve their communities and encourage others to grow and steward their own talents.

And the more they have to do it with, the more they will do…so why not Christian millionaires? Christian billionaires?